It has been one of the curious fixtures of recent history that the origins of some of the most powerful political neologism that define our age remain profoundly obscured. The Victorians knew where 'Descent from the Apes' came from. Likewise later, terms like 'class struggle', 'Oedipus complex', 'Iron Curtain', and 'cult of personality' have all had definite and locatable origin.
With the feminist nomenclatura, we are not so sure. Conferences are held world over on the subject of 'Violence Against Women'. The UN Secretary General issues quarterly reports how to combat it. The US has a federal law (VAWA) against it. But what is it ? Does an individual act of brutality of one male against one female imply a cultural historical conspiracy of one gender against the other ? Who confirmed the theoretical framework for this monstrous and inept misapprehension ? How come internationally acclaimed feminist writers writing before 1970 know nothing about the phenomenon ? A witness no less authoritative than Simone de Beauvoir noted that sexual violence toward young women most often happened in the country and wherever manners are rough. By deduction then it was rare among urbanites who were well-bred. In another passage in The Second Sex, analyzing the behaviour of lesbian partners, she notes that unlike hetero situation, the feminine duo is unconcerned with dissimulation and self-control. Hence the couple may end up in remarkably violent scenes. So, for Simone de Beauvoir, it was not as much men’s violence against women, as it was the lack of couth that leads to uproar in the house. A man and a woman, she continues, are intimidated by the fact they are different: he feels pity and concern for her; he feels bound to treat her with courtesy, indulgence, restraint; she respects him and fears him somewhat, she endeavours to control herself in his presence; each is careful to spare the mysterious other, being uncertain of his or her feelings and reactions. No-one else of Simone de Beauvoir's generation knew of this vicious plot against the better half of humanity. There was not a word about Violence Against Women in the final report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada 1967. Not a single word ! How could that be ?
Simple ! Violence Against Women as a world-wide male conspiracy was not unmasked before early 1970's. The first use that I have been able to discover comes from pamphlets issued by Andrea Dworkin on behalf of a NYRF (New York Radical Feminist) workshop in New York. It bears the unmistakable stamp of Dworkin's penchant for outrageous exaggeration. She claimed also eg. that all sexual intercourse is rape by definition (!), that nine million women were burned in the Middle Ages as witches (against an estimate of twenty thousand in respectable academia), and that Caesarean Section was a "surgical f*ck" invented by perverted male doctors for their own pleasure and to disfigure women.
It may surprise Anthony Furey but the idea of the "culture of rape" has also an author whose ideas are gospel among feminazi ideologues, gospel obligingly deferred to by people like Alan Rock (now president of Ottawa U) who are liberal to the point of being clueless. Her name is Susan Brownmiller and the thesis has been expounded by her seminal work Against Our Will: Men, Women an Rape. She did not coin the term "culture of rape" btw, it was first articulated by Wilhelm Reich, a brilliant pupil of Freud, an inventor of a universal principle of life energy called orgone who alas ended his days in a lunatic asylum. The following is my assessment of Brownmiller's scholarly merits.
--- from an unpublished essay The Core Feminist Myth (2001) ---
Five years after [Kate] Millett, Susan Brownmiller took upon herself the task to show that patriarchy is a system which condones and promotes mass rape of women. In order to manage such a difficult and ambitious argument her book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape would diligently strip events of their historical contexts and rearrange them in a long streaks of woes on the patriarchal flatlands. In a chapter on war, she sweeps through the Crusades, the American War of Independence (with a single incident of a Washington’s soldier hanged for rape - by mistake - presumably), forward to Kaiser Wilhelm and Stalin’s rapists entering Berlin, and back to biblical Hebrews, and Homeric Greeks molesting women at Troy. On a fabulously interesting subject of early Roman times she has this to say: ‘The rape of Sabine women, which supposedly led to the founding of Rome, is another famous example of woman-stealing in war, an event that captured the imagination of artists in later centuries who invariably painted the captured Sabines as full-fleshed and luscious and having a good time’. She condemns St.Augustine because he called the co-ordinated operation in which women ‘had been carried off and raped, nothing more than a dirty trick. Later in a chapter on the Heroic Rapist she concludes : ‘Down through the ages, imperial conquest, exploits of valor and expression of love have gone hand in hand with violence to women in thought and in deed. And so it was the poet Ovid, the Roman celebrant of love, who wrote of the rape of the Sabine women “Grant me such a wage and I will enlist today”, setting a flippant attitude toward rape in war that has persisted for two thousand years’.
Ok, let us straighten a few miniscule problems here: first, the story of Sabines is a myth, not an actual event. The mass abduction did not happen in war but in the story was casus belli itself. The act of women-stealing did not lead to the founding of Rome but the joining of warring tribes inside its walls. St.Augustine did not condemn women-stealing Romans as 'mass rape' because he spoke decent Latin.¨And last but not least, Ovid, rest assured, was deprived of the sight of the cavorting, luscious bodies being dragged off by macho men in the rich verdure of the Renaissance canvasses.
So, we are dealing not with an actual mass rape but a mythical time of the early years of the rule of Romulus who gathered shepherds and craftsmen for his city but could not find enough women. There was surplus women among the Sabines. The Romans pleaded with the lucky tribesmen to let some of the young women go. When the Sabine men refused, the resourceful Romans set up a ruse in the form of a sporting event. During the contest they grabbed the extra fair maidens among the spectators and absconded with their loot toward the walls of their city. The Sabines massed an army and began a war against the abductors. What happened next is related by Livy, a Roman historian and Ovid’s contemporary.
The captured women, said to be very angry and despondent, were given an oration by Romulus, who apologized to them and said the lawlessness only happened because their fathers refused to negotiate intermarriage between the clans. He implored them not to be overcome by bitterness but give themselves willingly to those ‘whom fate made their masters’. He guaranteed them citizenship, and civil rights; they would all be married properly§ Romulus exhorted the husbands to be the best men they could be to make up for the women’s loss of family and country. The men then each made their own apology, pleading the irresistible force of their passion, something, the male sexist pig historian said had a great appeal, for such is supposedly the nature of women.
The war went badly for Rome. Within a year, the Sabine king Titus Tatius laid a siege to the city. Then one of the captured women changed her mind and opened a city gate to the invaders. She was crushed to death instantly by the throng that poured in. Titus Tatius took the citadel. As the final battle flared up, the rest of the Sabine captive women, some clutching their babes, stepped boldly in the middle of the fray with their fathers and brothers on one side and their husbands on the other. They shouted, if you want to go on killing, better kill us first, because it us who are the cause of this war, for we have accepted our fate, and our marriage bonds, and we will not betray them as we will not betray our kin. Better for us to be dead than to live as widows and orphans!
The men stopped in their tracks, dumbfounded. Romulus and Titus Tatius signed a treaty which opened the city for the Sabines to settle in. Honoring the fearless women who stopped the war and saved the city founders, Roman citizens were thereafter called Curites, after the old capital of Sabines (Cures).This is more or less what Ovid was alluding to when crooning to Roman matrons.
The Abduction of Sabines indeed later became ready material for some early erotica in the emerging modern European urban culture re-discovering the beauty of human body. But there is no evidence that the Sabines were ever, anywhere, apprehended as anything else than the image of desirable womanhood, thought well worth getting into trouble for, by desirable manhood.
Brownmiller’s impossible mishandling of the Sabines story speaks of a number of things. [In the context of these essays ] tracking the technological and social elements contributing to the suppression of masculinity in our times, two are important.One, the fact that books like Millett’s and Brownmiller’s can be passed around as exhibits of learning is a witness of a most serious decline in our academia and a lingering fault in our present-day culture selectors. That such ugly and transparent nonsense can go around unchallenged – unchallenged by men, at any rate - is an important indicator of something really strange and sinister going on. Second, the a-historic, here-and-now cultural bubble that breeds ideas like patriarchy , suggests that feminism is a re-engineered throwback into the times and mores of our distant past when men and women moved around in their biologically spun social cocoons that defined their gender identity, both paranoid about and aversive of the other sex, and despairing to comprehend the roots of the misery of the original sin, which assigned them mutual gender loathing. In a touch of irony, the mindset that creates the patriarchal monstrosity operates on the psychological principle of female freedom from time and space given by the biological function of nurturing, their attending to immediate human needs. If you nurse babies, make house and mend socks all your life, it does not matter what century it is or whether the males in the place go out to fight Hitler or warmongering Jewish bankers led by Churchill. All men are the same, tous les hommes sont pareil, alle Manner sind gleich, vsjakiiie mushchiny rovniie…..
¨ ‘Rapio’ or legally ‘raptus’ means ‘abduction’ in Latin and in modern European languages, the lawless act is traditionally referred in that manner; i.e. Entfuehrung der Sabine, l’enlévement des Sabines , etc. Consequently, the original Latin legal concept, of ‘raptus’ had very little to do with the sexual offence of rape, which the Latins called stuprum , and which was a capital offence. The abduction was not a public wrong but a civil tort against the woman's kin and its male leader under whose protection the woman lived. Blood feud in this case was legitimate if restitution was not offered and accepted. The consent of the woman to the arrangement was essential in the Roman legal code.
§ We should keep in mind the story allegedly happened some eight hundred years before it was told in this manner, but the rights for women, at the time of Ovid and Livy, included separate property in marriage, and a right to divorce.